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Loren Howard: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”

I always align, redirect, and realign.On a call, I would always ask them how they are, point out the mistakes I want them to improve on, and then follow up with telling them what a great job they are doing.In an email, I would point it out only if it was something small, like a […]

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I always align, redirect, and realign.

On a call, I would always ask them how they are, point out the mistakes I want them to improve on, and then follow up with telling them what a great job they are doing.

In an email, I would point it out only if it was something small, like a spelling error, or typo. I would just thank them for all the hard work, point out the mistake and end it by saying thanks for all you do!

I always place value in the connection I have with the employee and make sure they understand how I connect with them.


Asa part of our series about “How To Give Honest Feedback without Being Hurtful”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Loren Howard.

Loren Howard is the founder and President of Prime Plus Mortgages, private money loans company. Loren, who is a serial entrepreneur, loving father and husband, boasts a portfolio of multiple successful companies, world records, and a decorated football career. He is the coveted world record holder for indoor rowing in the 500M, 100M and max distance in 1:00. Additionally, Loren proudly serves as the President of the Valley Guardians, a 501c-3 charity that runs on a 0 dollar operating budget, and that offers mentorship, leadership and educational opportunities to underprivileged children in Phoenix, Arizona.


Thank you so much for joining us Loren! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Before I got into the business, for the longest time my dream was playing for the NFL. I have always had an affinity for sports, and I had this laser-focus on becoming the strongest, fastest, and the best player I could. After moving around a lot as a kid, I started playing football in high school and was hooked. I was recruited to play college football and was even awarded Freshman All American Defensive End, Big Ten Defensive Freshman of the year and an All Big Ten Defensive End. Unfortunately, an injury sidelined me, and I never recovered properly to play at that level again. I then decided to go into business for myself.

My first company or as I like to call it, my ‘MBA’ taught me a lot about business but ultimately wasn’t successful. While we didn’t make any money from the company, I learned so much about how to run a business and be a leader that it was extremely valuable to me. The biggest lesson I learned was to keep learning, and took that attitude to my next businesses.

I launched my lead generation business and made my first million. I wanted to see if I could make lightning strike twice, so I got involved in the medical industry. Boom! Another success and I was operating on a much larger scale than I had ever before. I decided to phase it out as I wanted to adjust my company more to my lifestyle, and I was approached with the hard money lending opportunity. We now have our eyes set to be the best hard money lender in Arizona.

What do you think makes your company stand out?

Prime Plus Mortgages is always learning and adapting. We know what our clients need and can be faster and more flexible. For me, I have always been obsessed with being the best. From being the best athlete to the best leader, to running the best company. Running a successful company is all about having a drive and vision. That is what I think really sets companies apart from the pack, having a hunger and drive to be the best and never settle.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

One skill that was crucial for my success was that I was great at building relationships. I have always asked questions and worked with some of the best people in the world. During the launch of our first company, I met someone from India named Ajay, who lived in India. He helped me launch Altweb Media, which would sell a website and graphic design packages to companies. He lived on the other side of the world, but we would talk every single day. The craziest thing was the first time I met him in person was when I got married about 8 years later!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

My first company or as I like to call it, my ‘MBA’ taught me a lot about business. It was a sexual enhancement product, and we borrowed money from some family to start it. It was extremely educational for me, as I learned what the backbone of a business is, and structure, but it was a flop! I remember the day we launched the site we were so excited and just waiting for orders to fly in, and nothing happened! We spent so much time on creating the product that we didn’t think about marketing or sales. It’s funny now since that is so crucial to any business, and we didn’t think of how we were going to get people to our site or to get our name out there.

I learned so much from the process such as how to build a company, how to market and how to actually run a business. I was able to take all these hard lessons and turn my first successful business.

If you are just starting out, I would say keep learning. Research your niche, your target audience and learn what they want, where they are, and how to reach them! There is so much information on running a business, setting systems, and planning for scalable growth. If you aren’t learning and applying it to your company, then you are falling behind.

What advice would you give to other CEOs and business leaders to help their employees to thrive and avoid burnout?

You have to put in the time and energy to facilitate growth and intrinsic learning. You have to provide the space and tools to help employees learn, grow and contribute. It’s important to avoid stagnation, which requires an influx of new ideas and growth!

One of my great passions is building teams, and it’s laid such a great foundation for all my companies. We rely heavily on mentoring and coaching our employees. Not only does it motivate them, and help them grow, but I get to learn more about who they are and build an honest connection with each of them! I really love to see my employees unlock their full potential. I open up that line of communication for better ideas and a better business.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

There are three components to a great leader, credibility, structure, and connection. Obviously, you have to be a trustworthy source for what they are leading, and they have to know how to structure the formula to provide feedback and mentorship. The most important aspect to leadership is connection. Your coworkers, employees and anyone you are leading has to be able to see that you genuinely care about them and their growth. Creating a culture of constant feedback, allows them to reflect on how far they have come, what they learned and how they grow as a result of their actions. When you give praise, it has to be genuine, and you have to coach with a level of humanizing humility and genuine concern.

In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?

For me, it’s all about confidence and preparation. I don’t walk into important meetings without knowing everything I need to know, such as the questions they are going to ask, any objections I have to overcome. As long as you have all the information you need and are prepared, I don’t really ever feel stressed. I always prepare the objective, success criteria, and the changes they will want and need. That is what builds your confidence.

Personally, I have a strict routine I follow for my mental, and physical health. I exercise daily and meditate which helps me focus on the purpose and intention of the day. I focus a lot on recovery and follow my routine to make sure I get the most out of most out of day!

Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Can you briefly tell our readers about your experience with managing a team and giving feedback?

There are three steps you need to do when you give feedback, which is align, redirect into your objective, and then realign.

When you need to give feedback, you want to always align and make sure to get on the same page and praise them for the great work they have done before. It should always be something positive, to set a positive tone for the meeting. Then, redirect to give feedback but make sure to tell them why it is important to the business, so it’s not a personal attack. Follow it up immediately by realigning, by reaffirming the good work they do!

This might seem intuitive but it will be constructive to spell it out. Can you share with us a few reasons why giving honest and direct feedback is essential to being an effective leader?

You need to have a culture of constant feedback, and for that communication is key. Good communication, all comes down to delivery. You don’t want to leave anything to be interpreted. I make any request and feedback as direct as possible, and it makes my business and my team more effective since they know exactly what I am looking for.

One of the trickiest parts of managing a team is giving honest feedback, in a way that doesn’t come across as too harsh. Can you please share with us five suggestions about how to best give constructive criticism to a remote employee? Kindly share a story or example for each.

I always align, redirect, and realign.

On a call, I would always ask them how they are, point out the mistakes I want them to improve on, and then follow up with telling them what a great job they are doing.

In an email, I would point it out only if it was something small, like a spelling error, or typo. I would just thank them for all the hard work, point out the mistake and end it by saying thanks for all you do!

I always place value in the connection I have with the employee and make sure they understand how I connect with them.

Can you address how to give constructive feedback over email? If someone is in front of you much of the nuance can be picked up in facial expressions and body language. But not when someone is remote.

My entire company is remote, so for me, I don’t change anything in my feedback cycle. I prioritize building connections with my team, so it is easy for me to be direct and effective.

How do you prevent the email from sounding too critical or harsh?

The only difference I make with email is to ask if there is any way this could be read differently, and make sure that it adjusts if it doesn’t match my tone. If I notice I misstepped, or that I overreacted I am quick to apologize and correct my own behavior.

In your experience, is there a best time to give feedback or critique? Should it be immediately after an incident? Should it be at a different time? Should it be at set intervals? Can you explain what you mean?

It is important to have a platform to give constant and immediate feedback. You have to have a culture where it is encouraged to give feedback and have a habit of giving positive feedback.

How would you define what it is to “be a great boss”? Can you share a story?

For me, I define being a great boss by the loyalty of my employees, and the relationship I have built. My employees who I have mentored and coached, not only have grown considerably in a short period of time but stay with me for many years! I invest a lot of time into helping people to grow and they trust that I have their best interest at heart. The genuine connection is so important to our friendship and makes for a better company culture.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Currently, I am the President of 501c-3 charity, called the Valley Guardians. We are a network of entrepreneurial guardians guiding youth through education, mentorship, and resources to arm them with an opportunity to achieve their full potential for success. We do this by making sure 100% of our funds go to the people that need it most, the children of our community. We offer children the tools to succeed through leadership opportunities, tutoring, financial aid, and the chance to enjoy their childhood. Learn More about the Valley Guardians here.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” -John Quincy Adams

This quote perfectly summarizes what I think makes an effective leader. I have been extremely fortunate to be inspired and be coached by some of the best, and I am constantly trying to pay it forward and help other people unlock their potential and make themselves the best person they can!

People tend to let their ego get in the way of learning more, but if you aren’t constantly questioning and looking for solutions or innovations you won’t ever get ahead.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/loren.howard.54

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorenhoward/

Thank you for these great insights! We really appreciate the time you spent with this.

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